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Help please - Playing iTunes music throguh a seperate amp

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by danprice, Jul 20, 2004.

  1. danprice

    danprice
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    Hi,

    I currently have most of my music collection on my PC in AAC format for use on my ipod. I also have by pc's onboard sound card connected up to my 5 yr old mini system via some cheapo phono leads.

    Anyway I want to upgrade and need som help please!

    I am looking for
    a) A new soundcard for my pc. It will sole be used to output 192kbps AAC tracks from itunes. No need for 7.1 surround etc. (I heard the m-audio audiophile 2496 is good?)

    b) An amplifier. I have been looking around richer sounds but am not sure what to choose. Roughly in the £100 - 200 area.

    c) A way of connecting them. Digital coaxial or optical perhaps.

    I really don't have any idea where to start so any help at all would be great.

    Thanks
    Dan
     
  2. danprice

    danprice
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    anyone?
     
  3. Leemo

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    I'm having the same problem. I have iTunes, and a decent amp, but a rubbish built-in soundcard. I'm on a Mac, and have tried the Griffin iMic as a cheap solution, but this comes nowhere near CD player quality. Almost all the fancy soundcards are rated by their ability to record, how do they sound for home HiFi?

    Do the Xitel HiFi links do a good job, does anybody know? There must be an answer to this problem - iTunes can play lossless and uncompressed music, so a HiFi result has to be a possibility.
     
  4. cwick

    cwick
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    How about an Airport Express ? Mine arrived yesterday and it's very good, and integrates seamlessly with iTunes. You can ignore the Airport part if you want - you can use it on a wired network to stream to an amp.
    Only tried the analogue outputs so far, but it sounds pretty good - will be trying the optical out once my leads turn up (it uses 3.5mm optical connections - about the only lead I don't have lying around !).
    Not terribly versatile (a good soundcard would run to a similar price, and might be of more use), but worth considering.
     
  5. nikyzf

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    The Lynx One, Two, and 22 are highly thought of in both the pro audio and audiophile camps, but the price is probably a lot more than most of us would want to pay :eek:
    http://www.stereotimes.com/acc101502.shtm
     
  6. Leemo

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    Hi,

    I've just dropped an M-Audio Audiophile 2496 into my my machine, and it sounds fantastic. Easily the equivalent of my CD player, possibly better, and only £69. Highly recommended. All I need now is a quieter PC!
     
  7. danprice

    danprice
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    thanks for the info on the m-audio. tempted to go for that now. What kind of cables are you using between your PC and amp?
     
  8. Leemo

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    Hi,

    Just budget RCA interconnects from Richer Sounds. Way better than the feeble leads supplied with most Hi Fi gear, and cheap. (£15 for two metres)

    There are loads of superior alternatives, best to judge by the quality of your amp and speakers. 10% of the total cost of your Hi Fi is a rule of thumb for cables/leads.
     
  9. HMHB

    HMHB
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    cwick - how are you getting on with the Airport Express ?
    I've been looking at this and am a bit confused about what I need at the other end to communicate with it. I currently have a wired network and a Linksys wireless G access point with all my computers running windows XP. Can I just plug one of these airports in and run it wirelessly ?
     
  10. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    yep.

    Depending on your network, it'll either work automatically, or you'll need to connect it via ethernet while you configure it, then unplug and away you go.

    Only real limitation is that itunes can only send to one airport at a time, so no multizone just yet.

    As for amps, have you looked at Griffin powerwaves? They are a usb soundcard and amp in one. So you can just plug one in, and attach directly to speakers.
     
  11. cwick

    cwick
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    As Mr Plumb says, you'll be good to go. I'm using mine via a Linksys WRT54G with no problems.

    Having used the digital output now, I'm now very happy with it. I no longer use my Arcam DV27 for music, it's all Airport Express now, so it can't be that bad :)

    Handy tip - if you find playback skips now and again, giving iTunes a higher priority (use Task Manager to set the iTunes.exe process priority) fixes it. Very odd, since it hardly uses any CPU, but there you go. Only applies to iTunes on windows though - when I stream from a Mac it's not a problem.

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  12. HMHB

    HMHB
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    Cheers. I think I'll get one of these, for the price you just can't lose really.
    I assume that the USB printer connecting will only work with Mac operating systems ?
     
  13. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    nope, thats windows too.

    Does anyone know if the usb printer thing works two way? I.e. could you use it with an all-in-one for scanning, or feeding back printer status?
     
  14. cYs

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    Hey cwick,
    Can you tell me a bit more about your set-up? What Mac are you streaming from and what amp you got? Also what DAC were you using?
    Thanks
    cYs
     
  15. cwick

    cwick
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    Sure ... I stream from either an iBook (dual USB G3), an PowerBook G4, or a PC. Too many iTunes libraries hanging around, but playlist sharing makes it a snap :)

    The Airport Express output goes through an ART DI/O DAC, and off into an Arcam A75/P75 combo, bi-amping the fronts, and the pre-out from the P75 drives a sub. Speakers are Totem Acoustic Arros and a Velodyne CHT-10 sub.

    Oh, and there's also an M-Audio CO2 inbetween the DAC and the AE converting the optical digital into coax digital ... wish that bit wasn't there though, I'll have to look into modding the AE - anyone stumbled on any AE modding info ?

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  16. aldergrove

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    Having used the digital output now, I'm now very happy with it. I no longer use my Arcam DV27 for music, it's all Airport Express now, so it can't be that bad :)


    Where did you get the cables from?

    Just ordered mine tonight and assume the quality would be better through the digital in than through the phone option?
     
  17. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Another vote for the M-Audio USB 24/96 Transit on a number of levels it’s a stunning audio addition :

    Very simple to install (ie spare USB port)
    Very very very cheap - £40
    Excellent headphone device
    Toslink Digital Output
    Toslink Digital Input
    Can be used on multiple PCs, ie simply disconnect the

    The only stumbling block (audiophile wise) is the Minijack anlg audio output if connecting to an amplifer, but you can easily buy 3.5mm – 2 RCA lead or an adaptor for less than £10 and you are off (FWIW I felt it sounded pretty good via an adaptor and a normal set of ICs) to my amp. If that is a big concern then you need a SC with RCA outputs or consider using the M-Audio off a set of £100 cans until you slot a DAC into the chain, the main plus point of the M-Audio transit to me is that it can be used with a DAC via the optical output and easily shifted from PC to PC (I run one between 2 PCs), I found no difference between the M-Audio and my £500 DVD player in toslink mode when fed to my DAC. Stunning piece of kit. Also heard some very good reports of the Internal Emu-0404 Card FWIW. Don’t spend more than £100. PC audio AFAICT is pretty stunning for pennies compared to audiophile hifi components.

    Some good reading :

    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=12957
    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=13339
    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=13299

    All IMHO of course.
     
  18. cwick

    cwick
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  19. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    CW

    You get one of those leads free with the M-Audio Transit pacakge, well in fact you get a very sturdy 1m Toslink-Toslink cable with an additional Toslink-3.5mm Minijack adaptor on the end, so the cable can do 2 tasks. A nice little touch I felt. The other nice thing is that the supplied USB-USB cable for the device is above 2-3m long, very nice for siting the M-audio with your Hifi kit which can be a fair distance away from the PC.
     
  20. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    CJ - What are the pro's and con's likely to be between the M-Audio audiophile 2496 and the Transit if you take transportability out of the equation? (I would be using the card as the main DAC BTW)

    I'm only interested in maximizing output from one PC. I.e. good quality stereo for driving Cans while at work. I may well be going for a headphone amp as well, but I would be using the card as the main DAC BTW)

    Cheers

    Croc
     
  21. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Croc sorry I missed this post

    IMHO youm have to ask yourself 3 questions with the SC you wish to use :

    1) Will it be used via its anlg ouputs towards an amplifier as a source [ie like a CDP]
    2) Will it be solely used as a headphone amp+source for driving use cans off the PC
    3) Will it ever be used as “transport” solution for running to a DAC and thence onto a hifi amplifier as a source.

    In your scenario then It sounds like you need a headphone amp, If your thinking of sending towards an amp the SC options with proper anlg RCA outputs should be looked at, the main point of the USB transit is its digital output for use with a DAC and its use as a headphone point from PC TBH, And its ludicrously low price - £40, added to the sheet ease of use from one PC to the next. Anyway realting to the point 1-3 above here are the pros & cons of the Transit or an internal SC.

    1) Transit has a 3.5mm minijack headphone type output, not the best for a straight connection towards a 2 RCA line input of an amp. Int. SC would be a better option then.

    2) Transit is perfect for this TBH.

    3) Again the transit is a good solution for this IMHO and sounds damned wonderful acting as a “source” for PC based music towards a DAC. A note though there are a few people who have used int. SCs and are not happy with the digital output towards their DACs (not seen this levelled at external USB devices such as the Transit Or Sonica) read some of the links below (they cover both the transit – sonica USB devices and int. SCs) if it were me the 2 solutions I would be considering are :

    M-Audio 24/96 USB Transit : £50 (Headphone plus future use to a hifi DAC)
    EMU 04 04 Int. SC : £70 (RCA anlg Line outs straight to a hifi amp)

    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=12957&highlight=emu
    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=13299&highlight=emu
    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=13339&highlight=emu

    FWIW Having used the transit in my hifi system, I can honestly say the quality is pretty stunning hifi option IMHO (of ocurse my DAC is doing the anlg conversion of the PC-Transit data stream, PC audio is about to give the hifi industry a real kick up the ass as far as VFM is concerned IMHO. I mean were talking £50 & £70 here for 2 fantastic PC audio – Hifi solutions.

    HTHs
     
  22. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    CJ

    Thanks for getting back to me on this. Typical isn't it but I pushed the button just an hour before getting your post. However, the good news is that you pretty much confirm my thoughts. I've gone for the internal SC the M-audio 2496. I know some say the E-mu is better, but I managed to get my company to purchase the card :thumbsup: :D (since it is for work PC and since they know I'm more likely to work over if I have a decent music option at work), but the budget was capped and it wouldn't quite stretch to it. Really in my heart of hearts I was only ever gonna be happy going to an external head amp so the integral RCA's will be perfect.

    The only prop now is that the amp is gonna have to wait as Norm (at headsave, where I want to get it from) has just notified me that his order books are full and he's not taking any more until January (Does me a favour TBH as funds are a little tight now until after christmas).

    Thanks again, I'll give some feed back when I've got it all up and running.

    Cheers

    Croc
     
  23. CJROSS

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    Nice one Croc, looks like a very well specced SC with the connections TBH, ie for use now as a source in its own right and possibly in future running onwards to a DAC. Yeah the EMU gets all the plaudits but a few months ago the sun shone out of the M-Audio 2496s bum. As Im listening to the same DAC section dude as you will be via my headphones I can honestly say its sounds pretty damned good to these ears. A review you may have stumbled upon :

    http://www.computermusic.co.uk/reviews/audiophile/audiophile.asp
     
  24. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    ...yeh saw that review thanks CJ. Obviously it highlights just how much functionality the thing has got. It looks like a top bit of kit. Seems odd that all I'll be using is the one analogue out for good stereo play back. Still, I might but it in my home PC one day and try the DD/DTS with my HC kit. Might even plug my daughter's keyboard into it one day just for a mess around. (Sacrilege to all you musicians out there I'm sure)

    It arrived this morning already BTW. I only ordered it yesterday lunch time. Got it from Making Waves, excellent service.

    Cheers

    Croc
     

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